Last month, I traveled to our nation’s capital to deliver a message to the members of Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I told them that while the federal ethanol mandate is big business for Iowa’s corn growers, it is bad business for Florida.
Our state’s economy is driven by small business, which faces some of the harshest consequences of the ethanol mandate, also known as the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). As a board member of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I see how businesses have struggled to pay the higher gasoline prices caused by the RFS mandate and the damage it does to vehicle engines and the small engines critical for some companies’ work. In Florida, these costs have forced some businesses to lay off employees.
Transportation costs for all business are increased because of the higher gas prices caused by the RFS. E15 (gasoline blended with up to 15 percent of ethanol) only contains two thirds of the energy in regular gasoline, which requires more trips to the pump and more costs to business owners. This type of blended gasoline can also cause engine damage in more than 90 percent of cars on the road, forcing businesses to pay a heavy cost for repairs.
Additionally, even the EPA itself has prohibited the use of E15 in all motorcycles, school buses and trucks.
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Florida already has recognized the damage ethanol has done in the state and has repealed the ethanol mandate, but we still must comply with the federal requirements. The federal government needs to catch up to the state policy and realize ethanol isn’t working here.
Thankfully we have Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who understand the harm the RFS is causing Florida and are willing to support a much-needed change to this policy.
This issue is front and center for the upcoming presidential election, and we need candidates to help us take a stance to reform this mandate. This policy was originally created to benefit the country, but the results are clear — the RFS has failed, and it’s time to end the damage that it’s doing to us.
We must call upon our legislators and potential presidential candidates to make this policy work for and not against us.
The coalition most helpful to provide additional information is Smarter Fuel Future (www.smarterfuelfuture.org). Let’s help and continue to support our elected officials in reforming this RFS policy.
Roly Marante, board member, Florida State Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce, Miami